If you plan your Shanxi tour or Pingyao tour in particular, you should not miss a side trip to the ancient Qikou Town( 碛口镇, or Qikouzhen as recognized by Google Map). Qikou Town is a rarity of well-preserved ancient town in the style of Ming and Qing Dynasty (1368 – 1911). Unlike the noisy and a bit commercialized ancient Pingyao City, Qikou has kept much of its original outlook, mainly owing to its remoteness and inaccessibility.
Location of Qikou Ancient Town
Qikou Town is under the jurisdiction of Linxian County, Luliang, Shanxi Province, located at the western foot of Luliang Mountain, 58 kilometers south of (Lishi ) Luliang ; 243km west of Taiyuan and 177km northwest of Pingyao.
The town is on the southeast of the Yellow River and on its south is Qiushui River, a tributary of the Yellow River.
Lijiashan Village, a long-forgotten ancient settlement of cave dwellings, is just 6 km southwest of Qikou Town. It is a must to include your side trip to the ancient village while planning your trip to the ancient town of Qikou.
ABC of Qikou Ancient Town
“Qi” in Chinese literally means “sand and rock in water”. “Qikou” is a place where the massive Yellow River suddenly narrows its riverbed to 80 meters wide with submerged sand and rocks from the upper 500 meters wide riverbed, a bottleneck which challenged the waterway transportation on the Yellow River.
The Yellow River used to be an efficient and important waterway transportation linking Northwest China (Inner Mongolia, Shaanxi…） and Northern and Southern China during the Ming and Qing dynasties ( 1368 – 1911 ) before the advent of highways, trains and flights.
Qikou Town flourished in Ming and Qing dynasties because the goods on the water transportation on the Yellow River had to be carried on to the land on Qikou. Qikou later became a busy port town with lots of wharves bringing numerous visitors and businessmen. It served as a trading port and a trading market as well.
At its heyday, sometimes hundreds of boats berthed everyday. From the Northwest China, cereals, oils, salt, furs, medicines and many other products were carried to Qikou before they were transported overland by horse and camel to other parts of China.
Vice versa, from central China, silk, tea, cigarettes and liquor were transported to Qikou Town before they were carried on to the boats heading to the northwest China. Hundreds of dock hands worked at the port town and hundreds of camels horses carried goods on the route,which brought prosperity to the port town of Qikou. It remained a trading centre until the 1940s.
How to get to Qikou Old Town
You may take the morning long distance bus from Taiyuan West Coach Station （太原汽车客运西站）to Qikou Town, or via Lishi (离石). Taiyuan West Coach Station is located on Yingze Avenue 10km to the east of Taiyuan Railway Station. Take Bus No.01, 06 from Taiyuan Railway Station, you will get to Taiyuan West Coach Station. Add: Yingze W St, Wanbailin, Taiyuan Tel: 0351 6552571.
Basiacally you have the following choices to reach Qikou Ancient Town or Lijiashan Village as well.
1. Take the 10:00 am long-distance bus from Taiyuan West Bus Station directly to Qikou Town, about 5 hours.
2. Take buses from Taiyuan West Bus Station to Lishi （Lüliang 吕梁）, from Lishi connect the buses to Qikou
3. Take the buses from Pingyao Bus Station to Lishi (Lüliang 吕梁）, then from Lishi to Qikou.
Suggested accommodation: Qikou Guesthouse Tel: 0358 – 4466188
Virtual Tour of Qikou Ancient Town
Now please follow me to Qikou Town.
The terraced houses in the town dug into the hillside on the bank of the Yellow River. The ancient town is mainly composed of three old streets – the river front west street, the middle street and the east street, plus 13 narrow lanes on the slopes, connecting all the houses in the old town.
The west street faces the bank of the Yellow River was once teemed with piers, restaurants, inns and granaries. Today you could see the evocative stone houses and cobbled pathway, telling us the past glory.
The cobbled pathway brings you to the riverside west street in the town.
There used to be numerous piers below the high west streets rife with inns, restaurants and granaries.
The local residents still keep their old ways of doing things.
The middle street was once the most prosperous commercial street rife with restaurants, stores and money shops.
The Middle Street in Qikou
The middle street teems with shops and restaurants. But it is a tourist shoulder season, not much business on the street.
The narrow lanes connect all the houses on the hillside, linking the west street and the middle street.
Behind the three main streets in the town, higher on the platform is the Black Dragon Temple. From the Ming Taoist Temple, people can have a panoramic view of the Yellow River, Qiushui River, the town and Lijiashan. A few minutes hike brings you to the temple.
The sun is setting over the ancient town of Qikou.
Tip: Hassle-free Pingyao & Shanxi Guided Tours
If you don’t want to do a self-guided tour and prefer the hassle-free escorted tours, here are some options for organized tours to Pingyao and Shanxi Province:
Visit Qiao Family Courtyard
How to Visit Zhenguo Temple
How to Visit Shuanglin Temple
How to Visit Wang Family Compound
How to Visit Zhangbi Ancient Castle
How to Visit Lijiashan Village (Tips, Photos & Map)
How to Visit Qikou Ancient Town (Tips, Photos & Map)
The Best Place to See Sunrise in Pingyao Ancient City
Any questions, just drop a line.